A Mango a Day

pharmacia itemI usually like going to the doctor here. Dr. Garcia is handsome in a classically Latin way, looking a little like Cesar Romero. He wears a tie and lab coat and is grey at the temples, and has a grave courteous attitude…altogether a reassuring candidate for the care of my health, and Bruno’s primary physician. This is in contrast to Dr Ricky, who has both a surfboard and a motorcycle parked in his waiting room, leaving us patients to sidle around his toys on the way to appointments. He has hair down to his shoulder blades and is likely to try both acupuncture and pot before switching to more conventional ideas, and of course, I like him better. On this occasion, after three long days of what I assumed was flu, I couldn’t have cared less who was on the other side of the desk…the urbane Dr. Garcia, Dr Ricky, or Doogie Howser. Bruno had dragged me over to our local clinic, muttering “enough is enough” and something I couldn’t make out about “drama queens.”

The clinic is a friendly hangout that has bougainvillea poking into most of the ground floor windows and casting shadows into the waiting area and the office of Dr. Don, the dentist. Next to the clinic is a pharmacy that looks like a magic shop, then the lab, and Mom’s Deli has the end building in the row. This fortunate arrangement makes it possible to catch up on village gossip while waiting on the shared sidewalk for lab tests or x-rays. Everyone in the village is bound to pass by sooner or later, if not for pie, then for Viagra. Not that I felt like shooting the breeze with anyone. It turned out that I had somehow caught the singular case of strep throat in a swirling miasma of colds, flus, grippes, chilblains and bronchial infections imported by our annual winter population. Swine flu, schmine flu.

VapoRubI wouldn’t have been able to get anyone to talk to me if I had been feeling social, since I smelled, Bruno said most vehemently, like an old peoples’ home. The reason for this is the Mexican obsession with Vick’s VapoRub, which is pronounced lovingly as VahpOrube, and which is hauled out for everything from a chest cold to a broken bone. Carmen, who is our maid, although no word has ever been less adequate for describing the complicated and dear relationship we share, can be counted on to show up with not only the VahpOrube, but also a tupperware vat of “caldo,” a universal term for consomme, whenever the Senor or I are feeling punk. As for the caldo, I wouldn’t dare ask what these various broths might be derived from, as the answer is probably the last thing I want to hear about when I’m not feeling well. I wouldn’t be able to eat any this week anyway, since they’re so full of chili pepper it would strip off the back of my throat even without the strep. Thus I waited patiently until Carmen left the room to go change the bed and then discreetly poured it down the sink.

I don’t feel guilty… I’m sure she does the same thing with the tuna surprises and other bland gringo leftovers we shower on her family.

Elliott Joachim pulled the plug on life in Metro D.C. and headed South of the Border. In her blog, Lifestyle Refugee (honey, what the hell are we doing in Mexico), she regales you with how a middle range baby boomer builds a new life in Ajijic.

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